Time waits for no appraiser. The wheel turns ever onward, passing from generation to generation. That’s the idea, anyway. The appraisal industry, however, is stuck in a bizarre limbo of appraisers who aren’t getting any younger and a new generation that has little interest in the valuation space.
“Over the past four years, the number of appraisers has decreased at an annual rate of about 3 percent,” said Sara Stephens, president of the Appraisal Institute. “The Appraisal Institute expects the rate of decrease will increase sharply over the next five to 10 years due to demographic and economic factors.”
A high rate of retirements, individuals leaving the profession due to poor business conditions and few new individuals entering the profession could result in a 25 to 35 percent decrease in the number of appraisers in the U.S. in five to 10 years, according to the institute — which also pointed out that the average age of a real estate appraiser is approximately 51 years old.
The contributing factors don’t stop there. The list goes on and on: The poor state of the housing market, the wider usage of alternative valuation methods (AVMs, BPOs, CVRs, etc.) and the downsizing of appraisal panels by appraisal companies, to name a few. Mix in the regulatory turmoil that the industry is facing and it’s no wonder a wide-eyed, 20-something looking to enter the workforce wouldn’t even glance the appraisal industry’s way.
“I think the outlook for the appraisal profession is very glum,” said Debra Jones, a certified residential appraiser. “The ever-expanding scope of work and lack of comparables sales in the market make it more and more time consuming to complete an appraisal report. Combine that with the portion of the appraisal fee which is being taken by the appraisal management company and there are less and less financial incentives to become an appraiser.”
Anecdotes about the average age of residential appraisers pale in comparison to the actual numbers. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of practicing appraisers dropped from 93,575 to 86,800 — a loss of 6,775 — according to data based on Appraisal Institute analysis of the Appraisal Subcommittee’s National Registry of Real Estate Appraisers.
“The Appraisal World survey of 2010 is a real eye opener as far as the age of appraisers in the country,” said Jonathan Asker, owner of North Atlantic Appraisal Co. based in West Bridgewater, Mass., who is also the president of the Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers. He has recently researched Massachusetts’ own troubles with the aging appraisal workforce.
“All of us know the appraisal profession is graying but numbers are hard to come by as there is no central database to access,” he continued. “Twenty percent of the appraisers are above 60 years old. This survey was done in 2010; perhaps 12 to 24 months ago, the numbers have only increased. “We are now seeing the residential appraiser population, licensed and certified residential, drop by 11 percent over the last year. My assumption is it’s a combination of retirement and appraisers leaving the profession. The appraisal volume has been good the last few years, and in normal times trainees would move up and fill the spots vacated by the appraisers leaving the profession … but they aren’t.”